Frances Perkins wins Lent Madness ‘Golden Halo’

Frances Perkins, a modern, secular, lay heroine, beat out 31 other saints to win top honors in this year’s Lent Madness tournament. In the final round, she faced Luke the Evangelist, whom she beat by 926 votes. Forward Movement, sponsor of Lent Madness, issued this press release:

While college basketball fans are in the midst of March Madness, Christians can now relax after a nail-biting finish to Lent Madness 2013. In the final match-up, former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins worked her way past St. Luke to win the coveted Golden Halo.

Throughout the season of Lent thousands of voters have cast their ballots for their favorite saints through this engaging online devotional tool designed to help people learn about saints. There have been upsets and thrilling, come-from-behind victories as the field has been whittled down from 32 starters, to the Saintly Sixteen, the Elate Eight, the Faithful Four, and eventually the two finalists.

Frances Perkins became known as the architect of the New Deal while she served as Secretary of Labor in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. But she wasn’t merely a government bureaucrat. Perkins’ compassion came at least in part from her strong Christian faith. She was a regular worshiper in Episcopal churches and was added to the Episcopal Church calendar in 2009 for optional commemoration. She is the first American to win the Golden Halo. Previous winners were Mary Magdalene (2012), C. S. Lewis (2011), and George Herbert (2010).

The “celebrity blogger” who promoted the cause of Frances Perkins, Heidi Shott, canon for communications and social justice in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, said, “I am thrilled – and not a little bit stunned – that Frances Perkins made her way to the Golden Halo. As a lay woman in the Episcopal Church, I am so pleased that Perkins’ witness will be magnified both in the Episcopal Church and beyond.”

Musing on this year’s winner, Lent Madness creator, the Rev. Tim Schenck, says “One of the fun things about Lent Madness is people learning about lesser known inspirational figures. In this case Frances Perkins captured the hearts and minds of the voting public and swept to an unlikely victory. I assure you no one who filled out a bracket had her going all the way!”

I, for one, really got into Lent Madness this year for the first time. (After thinking long and hard, I voted yesterday for Luke. Sigh.) After four years, this whimsical and inspiring enterprise seems to be hitting its stride, garnering a write-up in USA today and plenty of social media noise. God bless The Revs. Scott Gunn and Tim Schenck, godfathers of Lent Madness, and all who contributed to the great write-ups of the saints in contention. Can’t wait until next year!

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